• Updates

May 26, 2009

Dispatch from Zurich

Designer Franco Clivio shows me his new book, “Hidden Forms”

Greetings from Zurich, where it was 80 degrees and sunny yesterday, and it actually hailed today! Despite the wild weather fluctuations, we had a wonderful screening last night at the Museum für Gestaltung, which is part of the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste. Great crowd, lots of students, and an after-drinks hosted by Helvetica film star and design publisher Lars Müller. Special thanks to Lars and Simone Wildhaber at the museum for all their help setting up the event.

This afternoon I visited the studio of designer Franco Clivio, who just released a book called Hidden Forms through Lars Müller’s publishing company. Franco’s an Ulm School alumnus and veteran product designer for Siemens and others. He also designed the Pico pens for Lamy. The book reveals the hidden qualities of simple, utilitarian objects, via Franco’s massive collection of anonymously-designed stuff. Highly recommended.

Franco also introduced me to his studio neighbor, Nik Schwabe. I’m not sure how to describe Nik… Franco just called him “crazy”. Suffice to say that he’s an 83-year-old Swiss artist working in visual phenomena: light effects, mirrors, visual projections, puzzles. While I was there, he performed on a Chladni Plate, a 17th Century sound device/scientific instrument that demonstrates how sound vibrations affect materials.

Here’s a short video clip of Nik bowing the Chladni Plate. Notice the sand grains on the plate rearranging into patterns from the different sound frequencies. I shot this on my little Leica still camera, so apologies for the picture/sound quality. At the end of the clip, Nik hits a frequency so high that I had to back away in pain… my ears are still ringing. An amazing afternoon!

So I just did the math, and so far on this tour I’ve done 37 events in 20 cities… so only 30 more cities to go! (Can’t believe I’m not even halfway through with this…) Onwards to London and a few nights at the Barbican Centre.



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schwabe nik, 24.09.1926 says

May 28, 2009

Dear Gary, I am surprised, your website is just great. I am very happy with it.

thanks Nik

carolyn says

Jun 01, 2009

Confused? The sand grain rearranged? Tell us more?

gary says

Jun 02, 2009

The vibrations of the plate cause the sand grains to move into different patterns depending on the sound frequency. More on Chladni here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Chladni